The Funeral of Ole Massa

Cast Bronze, 2007
18" X 20" X 16"

The wife of the deceased plantation owner stood over the coffin, unable to concentrate her gaze upon this shrunken, discolored corpse of a man from whom she had become estranged. Her attention was somewhat fixed on the two slave children that he instructed her to have seated hear his coffin during the funeral ceremony. It was believed during slavery time that African people had special powers-one such belief was that if your human property was present during the time of your soul leaving your body, you would be assured of a place in heaven.

The children, whose father lay still in the coffin, were not totally aware of what was taking place. Though massa was dead, they still sensed his cruelty and power. They were scantily clothed, sitting at the side of the casket, pacified by slices of melon. That their nakedness was evident did not concern them-for it was customary for slave children to wear only a cotton sack at best, which often deteriorated into nothing. The young girl was pregnant with the deceased master's child, which grew inside her, distorting her tiny body. The boy was oblivious to the cultural drama taking place around him, which was common in the plantation South. His only concern was to live in the few minutes he was given, free from his grueling chores.

As the sun grew pale in the Southern sky, somewhere it seemed like a signal was given and time itself hurriedly advanced at a pace where the pores of the earth opened and shot forth scavenger-like creatures that ascended into the casket as if to bring a rapid end to a person of his character.